Osgaig, Raasay and Skye is a much admired large scale landscape by Ruth Nicol. Ruth Nicol’s project was to travel Scotland sketching and painting the landscapes associated with each of the 7 poets depicted in Alexander Moffat’s composite portrait ‘Poets’ Pub’ (1980), held in the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.
In this touring Landmarks exhibition, you can see three of these poets’ portraits by Alexander Moffat alongside Ruth Nicol’s landscapes: George Mackay Brown and Orkney; Hugh MacDiarmid alongside Langholm, Shetland and Brownsbank Cottage near Biggar, Scotland; Sorley MacLean alongside the Scottish islands of Mull and Skye. Another of Nicol’s large scale landscapes, associated with the Edinburgh poet Robert Garioch, is held in the Scottish Parliament collection and can be viewed by visitors to the Parliament.
In the exhibition catalogue, the artist recounts some of the challenges of sketching and painting the isle of Skye: “As soon as we got to Skye the Cuillins [mountains] were there and the energy was so great I couldn’t hold my head up. It was too much. I was alright when I got to Plockton, where MacLean was head teacher at the local school – it’s such a dreamlike village. I remember the first time I was there I felt that this had to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. . . . you get a feel for these places when you’re there, in the islands. . . . I had to go back. It took two trips. I think I’ve come to terms with the Cuillins now.” – I’m sure you’ll agree, when you see this painting!
Acrylic on canvas